Adventist Health Glendale is encouraging women aged 70 and up with breast cancer to consider a one-time treatment option conducted while patients remain asleep after the removal of tumors. The option is called Targit Intraoperative Radiation Therapy.Typically, breast cancer patients choose between two alternatives: receiving weeks of daily external radiation or no radiation at all. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network has historically recommended that women aged 70 and up should forego post-lumpectomy radiation therapy due to the belief that the patient’s natural life expectancy was shorter than the chance the cancer would recur in 5 or 10 years.The other alternative to treatment is called External Beam Radiation Therapy which can cause side effects such as skin rashes and blistering. According to Adventist, many in the oncology community still hesitate to endorse EBRT for those reasons and because they fear it will exacerbate existing comorbidities like heart disease and emphysema.The hospital said a 20-year international clinical trial compared the Targit system to EBRT, “and long-term data consistently demonstrated no difference in local and distant breast cancer control, breast preservation, and breast cancer mortality.”“For years, many oncologists faced difficult decisions when treating breast cancer in senior citizens, weighing the positive outcomes of post-operative radiation treatment verses the side effects specifically detrimental to older patients,” Dr. Dennis Holmes, medical director of Adventist Health Glendale, said in a statement.According to Adventist, Targit removes the negatives from the equation. Unlike traditional whole breast radiation, the treatment only impacts the tumor bed and avoids unnecessary radiation to vital adjacent organs.“It is not the right treatment for all patients but is especially well suited for older patients who may need to consider certain comorbidities that increase with age,” he said.